When a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin love each other very very much, they have sex. And then, in at least one recorded case off the coast of Kaua’i, they make a hybrid baby, who has been given the thrilling title of “whale-dolphin.”
Does this make you long for a whale-sized dolphin which jumps houses and chews up poachers and topples oil rigs with one slap of its mighty flipper? Who outsmarts the whole human race and befriends misfit wayward children and together form a new and better society? Well too fucking bad because the newly reported whale-dolphin hybrid is more like a (still very amazing!) dolphin-dolphin hybrid, as the melon-headed whale is actually part of the oceanic dolphin family. But still, any new sea creature is a gift, and great news for a happy couple somewhere!
Researchers from the Cascadia Research Collective have published a report including an August 2017 image of the hybrid swimming alongside a melon-headed whale (dolphin). The researchers noticed that the coloration and head shape resemble a mix of the two species, which have been observed mingling in groups; genetic tests proved that he is indeed a hybrid, believed to be the miracle of a female melon-headed whale and a male rough-toothed dolphin. He may not be alone. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more hybrids between the two species ― they do associate quite regularly,” Robin Baird, a biologist with the research group, told HuffPost. He is not a new species, but it is theoretically possible, she tells HuffPost, that mating hybrids could form one. (Read an interview with Baird over at Kaua’i paper The Garden Island for more details).
“Wholphins” of sorts have existed since at least the 80s, when false killer whale and bottlenose dolphin hybrids were born to Tokyo Sea World and Sea Life Park in Hawaii. The report notes that different dolphin species have produced hybrids in at least three cases in the wild.
And now you’re all caught up on this week’s news cycle on love-making in the sea.